Ravens leaving their options open

Don't expect Ozzie Newsome to stay up past his bedtime to telephone free agents as the NFL market opens for business today. Of course, the Ravens' general manager has players he wants to sign, but not enough to fall off course from his philosophy of prudence and patience. "Hopefully, I'll be dead asleep by midnight," Newsome said. "We're not going to be one of those teams that's going to be flying people in for interviews on Saturday and having some big press conference on Sunday.

That's not happening here, unless it's with one of our own guys and a deal comes about."

Expect the Ravens to concentrate on re-signing quarterback Jeff Blake as well as outside linebacker Cornell Brown, inside linebacker Bernardo Harris, offensive tackle Ethan Brooks and end Riddick Parker along with receiver Brandon Stokley.

 All of those players may wade in the free agent waters, but except for Brown, their best opportunity for a limited piece of the NFL's financial coffers is likely to be found in Baltimore.

The Ravens already attended to one major issue by re-signing offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo to a seven-year contract worth $15.5 million, including a $4 million signing bonus.

"That's always our first priority is our guys, and that began with Edwin," Newsome said ."Getting Edwin under contract this week was big for us. We are engaged in contract negotiations with Jeff Blake, with Ethan Brooks. We're pretty busy right now. Also [coach] Brian [Billick] today is having lunch with Jeff Blake, so that's showing our commitment that we want to bring him back as the quarterback on this team."

As for whether a deal would be completed with Blake and his agent, Ralph Cindrich, by Friday, Newsome was noncommittal. Blake is reportedly unhappy with the Ravens' initial offer, which is below market value for an NFL starter of his experience.

However, he's unlikely to take more money to become a backup elsewhere when his best chance to start is here in Baltimore.

When asked if Blake was capable of winning a Super Bowl title, Newsome said, "I'm a big believer that you win with defense. If you can have a quarterback that can manage the game, don't turn the ball over and just make enough plays to put enough points on the board, then yeah.

"You look at the last three or four quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls, none of those guys are probably going to be [in the Hall of Fame]. If we put the right people around him and we put the defense back to where it should be, then he's capable. That's not to say that Chris Redman can't do it, and that's not to say that whoever we draft may not be able to do it."

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